In June 2014, White Studio was invited to design the new identity for the city of Porto and its city hall.

The idea was to create a visual system that could organize and simplify communication between the city hall and its citizens, in order to help bringing them together. At the same time, there was a need to represent Porto as a global city, a city for everyone.

The challenge here is that everyone’s Porto is different. Each person experiences this city in a very unique way. It became clear that Porto needed much more than a single logo or icon to be represented. It needed complexity. It needed life, stories and personality.

“With this idea in mind, one of our first tasks was to understand how others view the city, and what comes out of that observation. It’s obvious and even cliché to identify the big icons like Torre dos Clérigos, Casa da Música, Ribeira, Fundação Serralves, the river. These icons go from the incredible gastronomy to the unmistakable accent of the north of Portugal. The Port wine, the São João festivities, the old and the contemporary, the landmarks and the familiar, the list of “Portos” continues.”

Taking inspiration from the blue tiles spread across the city, which were used to represent scenes from narratives – in other words, to tell stories -, White Studio developed over seventy geometric icons which attempt to represent Porto and its people.

“The icons were designed based on a grid that could connect them with each other, creating a continuous network that evokes a tile panel. These icons became a visual code to represent the city. A code that can live by itself, viewing each symbol individually, or as a network of symbols that show the never-ending complexity of our city.”


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